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Kingsport native returns to Tri-Cities for Independence Day concert

Holly Nelms • Jul 3, 2016 at 8:00 PM

KINGSPORT — From small gigs in East Tennessee to shows at colleges around the country, Austin Moody’s country music career has led him on a whirlwind journey that he considers a dream come true.

Soon, that journey will bring him back home to the Tri-Cities, where he will perform at the Pepsi Independence Day Fireworks Celebration in Johnson City.

“I never imagined a career in music,” Moody said, “but I knew if I didn’t take (the opportunity), I’d regret it.”

Moody was born in Kingsport and raised on a farm near Rock Springs. When he was 14-years-old, he joined a bluegrass gospel band and began playing shows throughout East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. By the time he was 17, he had recorded three demos of songs that he’d written.

While playing in the bluegrass band, Moody attended a local Marty Stuart concert on a limb and introduced himself to Stuart’s bass player, Paul Martin, after the show.

“I asked if I could play him the songs that I’d written, and he said, ‘Sure,’” Moody said. “Two weeks later, I was in Nashville.”

At the same time, Moody was attending Sullivan South High School and decided to study audio engineering in college. This gave him a good reason to move to Nashville permanently.

“I left Kingsport on a gut-feeling,” Moody said. “I knew I was supposed to move to Nashville.”

About a year and a half later, Moody realized audio engineering wasn’t for him. He knew music was his calling, although he wasn’t sure how he would make a living at it.

As he waited for his music career to take off, Moody took a job milking goats after college, which took up most of his time.

“One day I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You look nothing like a country singer,’” Moody said. “(My job) was just wearing me out, so I was thinking, ‘What can I do to make a living at this thing?’”

Soon after, Moody began performing in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Then, in what Moody considers to be the next great phase of his career, he began playing shows at colleges in 2014, which helped him grow his audience.

Moody signed with Mike Kraski a month later and began working with award-winning songwriter D. Vincent Williams, known for writing the Rascal Flatts hit, “I’m Movin’ On.”

Growing up, Moody said listening to artists such as Alan Jackson and Don Williams helped him develop his own sound. From the time he received his own banjo at 8 years old, he knew he wanted to be a performer.

“I’ve always wanted to be on stage singing,” Moody said. “It was kind of something I was naturally passionate about.”

Moody will bring his passion for music back to where it began on Monday, when he will perform at Johnson City’s Independence Day celebration at the Freedom Hall Civic Center from 7-7:45 p.m., and 10:20-11 p.m.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, because it’s a big show and a lot of people will be there,” Moody said. “You want to go back and support your hometown people, and you want them to be proud of what you’re doing.”

Moody is currently working on a new record, which he predicts will be released to iTunes and other retailers in mid-to-late fall.

“I’d love to get to the point where my music is reaching millions of people,” Moody said, “but as long as I can continue to do what I’m doing now, that’s good enough for me.”

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